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OMG! School is Teaching Children to Cross Dress!

Or so goes the latest bit of melodrama from the Worldnutdaily and their audience of perpetual pearl clutchers. They’re throwing a fit about a Milwaukee school having a “gender bender” day during a school spirit week with other events like crazy hair day and the like.

“I do not want to send my son to school dressed like a girl,” one parent told Fox 6 News, which reported on the dispute.

The fight focused on the idea that school officials should not be telling students of grade school age to dress like the opposite sex.

The report from Fox said the school, when confronted by concerns about a “gender-bender” day, did decide to alter the name to “Switch it up.”

But the focus remained the same, said critics.

One mother who held her son home from school that day suggested it created an impossible situation for students – either to go along and dress up as the opposite sex, or to refuse to participate and be pointed out as someone who did not do anything…

But parent Sam Ward said it just teaches children the wrong lesson about gender.

Seriously, where do these people come from? What kind of world do they live in? Do they really think that this one innocuous (and entirely voluntary) event is going to turn their kids gay? Imagine how frightening the world must be to such people every day of their lives. They remind me of the clueless parents in my own high school who threw a fit when the French teacher taught us about the wines of France and the central role they played in French culture, accusing him of trying to turn us into alcoholics. I really hate moral scolds and busybodies.

Comments

  1. RickR says

    “I do not want to send my son to school dressed like a girl,”

    And once again, the gender police demonstrate that it’s all about teh boyz.

  2. alanb says

    How does one cross-dress when girls pretty much wear the same jeans and athletic shoes that the boys do?

  3. unbound says

    I’m with alanb, most of the boys and girls dress pretty similarly today. I can count on one hand the number of times my daughter (high school) has worn a dress in her entire life.

  4. says

    I am constantly astonished at just how fragile, how endangered, heterosexuality is in this country. A single openly gay teacher will turn students gay for life, despite the scores of openly heterosexual teachers the students have. A single cross-dressing spirit day in high school will turn students gay for life, despite a society that very aggressively enforces gender norms in just about every other context. Allowing your children in the same club where a gay child is a member three towns over will… it’s never made clear what that might cause, except that it s very, very bad.

    I would wonder what people like those in the OP are thinking, except that even I can see the question involves a lot of unwarranted assumptions.

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Y’know even if a school was planning to do a day or even week where boys dressed as girls and thus got even a faint hint of insight into how women and cross-dressers and non-hetero-normatives might possibly think that would be no bad thing such a classroom exercise I once had (admittedly only for hours if that) in wearing a blindfold led to thinking about how it might be to be blind.

    Encouraging different perspectives and thinking about different experiences of the broader world = A fucking good thing.

    So why is this even controversial again?

    @ 4.alanb : “How does one cross-dress when girls pretty much wear the same jeans and athletic shoes that the boys do?”

    They make them wear pink? And maybe handbags and dresses? (Shock! Horror! Sarcasm!)

    Wearing gender neutral clothing in the full visual spectrum (Incl. the dreaded p colour NOT the synonymn for mauve!) is what girls are expected to do all the time if they’re not, y’know “Giry girl grrls!”* ( Feels dirty now – goes to wash hands.)

    * Or scottish but when was the last time we saw a pink kilt?

  6. Who Knows? says

    When I was a kid, we had a backwards day. We all wore our clothes backwards. To this day, I wear my pants and shirts backwards and my shoes on the wrong feet.

    Once you go backwards, you never go back.

  7. Stacy says

    But parent Sam Ward said it just teaches children the wrong lesson about gender

    That we’re not born wearing gender-appropriate clothes and it’s possible to dress up like the other sex? Oh, horrors. Can’t have the kiddies thinking about the implications of that.

  8. Joey Maloney says

    I am constantly astonished at just how fragile, how endangered, heterosexuality is in this country.

    And its bestie, Christianity.

  9. reasonbe says

    No problem here, but a sentence about the lessons being addressed by “gender-bender” would round out the issue. Could be an interesting exercise. The shoes could hurt.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    “I do not want to send my son to school dressed like a girl,”…

    Why not send him wearing his regular clothes, and … a cross?

  11. Rip Steakface says

    @12 It’s a “fun” activity for school spirit – basically something to get the kids going. Similar ones include Superhero Day, Pajama (or if you use British orthography, pyjama) Day and simply Spirit Day (has nothing to do with supernatural stuff, it’s just school spirit – wear the school colors, etc. Usually around the week of homecoming or prom). We haven’t had a gender bender day at my high school, but it wouldn’t be especially unusual.

    Either way, the event is completely voluntary and I guarantee you wouldn’t be teased or bullied for not going along with the gender bender day. I rarely do spirit days (I usually do wear a purple shirt [my school’s colors are purple and white] on the actual Spirit Day, but I love purple as a color anyway), and I’ve never been made fun of for it except for the one time I didn’t wear a toga on Senior Toga Day.

  12. D. C. Sessions says

    One mother who held her son home from school that day suggested it created an impossible situation for students – either to go along and ________________________, or to refuse to participate and be pointed out as someone who did not do anything…

    How often do we hear people much like this mother tell us that this kind of thing never happens? Except I seem to recall that the blank was filled in slightly differently.

  13. magistramarla says

    My favorite picture of my son’s high school years is one of him wearing a blond wig, dressed as a cheerleader.
    He was elected homecoming king, and part of the festivities included a powder puff football game.
    The boys were the cheerleaders and the girls suited up in the football team’s uniforms to play a game.
    It was all great fun, and my son had so much fun. He and his buddies were quite skilled as cheerleaders.
    LOL – it certainly didn’t affect his masculinity, or his sexual orientation.
    A few years later this tradition was ended throughout the district without explanation.
    Now I wonder if some of the bible-thumpin’ conservative parents around here complained.

  14. Karen Locke says

    I was never all that “spirited” and went to Catholic schools, so the value of this sort of thing just slides by me. I do remember liking the occasional fund-raising festivals, but enjoyed the prep more than the actual event. (I’d usually volunteer to do something I really liked, like painting signs/posters.)

    Catholic schools require school uniforms, but occasionally have “free dress” days. Half the time I’d forget about it and wear my uniform anyway. I got teased, but usually gently.

    Still, if it works for the school and the kids find it fun, why not? Fundie paranoia.

  15. says

    And the most convincing cross-dresser gets a spot on the next season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I assume?

    No?

    Then what the fuck are they worried about? I bet not a single one will even shave his legs, much less wear high heels.

  16. monimonika says

    My high school did these kind of special let’s-have-silly-fun days occasionally. The one I remember most was Pajama Day. Most students came in with either long-sleeved regular pajamas that showed no skin, or the T-Shirt & boxers combo.

    There was, however, a guy who came in wearing women’s negligee. His plan was to have the homeroom teacher call him out and have him change before going to any other classes. Unfortunately for him (or so he claimed), none of the teachers in any of his classes stopped him, and thus he was given no authoritarian excuse to change to regular clothes for the entire day. I know this because he shared the same last period class as me, and was still wearing the negligee.

  17. says

    I went to high school in the very bowels of the Babble Belt and we had , think it was called, opposite day during homecoming week. There also were punk and hobo days and maybe some others.
    I swear to Thor it seems they’re just desperately reaching for things to be outraged/scared shitless over. It must be absolutely exhausting living one’s life that way.

  18. says

    I really hate moral scolds and busybodies.

    Me too, it’s so sad to see these attitudes prevelant in this day and age. Can’t give the kids any ideas, they might turn gay, or even worse, into an evil transwoman! (nevermind the fact transwomen aren’t crossdressing men, but those people think we are). /shudders

    I can’t wait for a society where people can literally wear whatever they want. Seriously, who cares? The idea any of this would affect someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is laughably insecure. Also, a society with a bunch of cisgendered dudes in dresses and cisgendered women in cowboy outfits would be pretty cool actually, with trans/gq/agendered/bi-gendered/intersex people doing our own thing freely too.

    A steampunk and gothic society without the religious right or religion at all, where people dress however they want and DO whatever they want; girls playing sports, going hunting, guys crocheting, weaving, dying cloth. The horror, we can’t have that, and the evil Illuminati agenda is proceeding every single time there is a crossdressing school day!! We can’t have an evil One World Illuminati QUILTBAG/LGBT agenda, all our kids will turn gay! (shrieks in mock horror). Then they’ll put us in Fema camps and use HAARP to put thoughts in our head that say jesus was dressed like a woman and Mary dressed like a biker! Things aren’t what they used to be in dem good ‘ole days =(

  19. says

    The high school I teach at had one of these days during a “spirit week” three years ago, and while it was a little strange for me (mostly because there were some guys who really went to great lengths – and, in some cases, heights) to teach with, it really wasn’t a big deal at all, just a bit of harmless fun. People just need to lighten up.

  20. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @naturalcynic : “Ask, and ye shall receive.”

    Cheers! :-D

  21. says

    We had a gender bender day in my first high school, and there was the fellow who already got shit from the gender policing assholes for being a long haired rocker type.

    That day, he showed up in this red cocktail dress, hair perfectly done, made up, even shaved his legs.

    The girls were even more all over him after that. We loved it.

    So seriously, what are these assholes scared of? It’s not required. If you don’t want to cross dress, don’t Simple Answers to Stupid Problems, part 10000.

  22. khms says

    In my various German schools (or uni), I don’t remember anything even remotely like those days, with the one exception that in regions where carnival is a thing, people are expected to do some variant of carnival-style dress-up/make-up on (usually) Rose Monday – voluntarily, of course. (In other regions, this usually gets raised eyebrows.)

    School colors? Umm … I can’t remember having such a thing. Of course, over here, schools competing athletically isn’t a thing in the first place.

  23. hunter says

    “Seriously, where do these people come from? What kind of world do they live in? Do they really think that this one innocuous (and entirely voluntary) event is going to turn their kids gay? Imagine how frightening the world must be to such people every day of their lives.”

    Ed, you should know the answers: these are people who literally can’t deal with any variation in the order of the world as their priest/minister has told them it’s supposed to be. They are very frightened.

    Yes, of course dressing as the opposite sex is going to turn their kids gay, or even worse — they’ve got a new one to deal with — transgender. That’s their reality, because they have no clue as to how anything works.

    Unfortunately for them, they can’t even hide in isolated backwaters any more — the world is right there in their faces, on their TVs and their Internet.

  24. ArtK says

    Hunter has hit the nail on the head. These people are afraid because the world is uncertain and ambiguous and they crave certainty. They cling to ancient moral codes and gender roles because they see them as anchors in a sea of ambiguity. At the same time, they recognize that these anchors are vulnerable — that the sea is far more powerful. So, they lash out at any strain on the anchors.

    Continuing the analogy, the rest of us don’t cling to anchors. We try to understand the tide and currents and weather and sail to new and exciting places. We don’t always make it to where we wanted to go, and parts of the journey may be very unpleasant, but that’s a part of sailing. Fighting the ocean is a waste of time — it’s a guarantee of failure and unhappiness.

  25. hunter says

    ArtK — for some reason, your comment reminded me of the Darwin fish.

    Speaking of which, and totally OT, I learned just yesterday, while hopping around TalkOrigins (which I haven’t done in far too long) that fish developed legs long before they ventured onto land.

  26. frog says

    Sheesh. I remember once or twice having such days at school, and the boys dressed in their regular pants with a dress over them. The most serious might go full-Monty-Python-pepperpot with old-lady wigs. Boys did not dress like girls so much as grandmothers. This was not a drag show or even “executive transvestite” fashion.

  27. andrewkiener says

    @ 17. – I went to catholic school, and we had crossup days during spirit week in both middle school and high school. Maybe half the guys dressed like girls. Worked best if you could find a girl to lend you her uniform jumper. Couple of the offensive linemen actually made pretty decent xtra jumbo copies of the cheerleaders uniforms one year.

    to those unfamiliar with the concept, this has nothing to do with gender equity, sensitivityo, or anything – it’s just a chance for the kids to act silly.

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